When my phone woke me up at 4:55am this morning my alarm clock was blinking 12:03, telling me that the power had went been out, and only come back on a few minutes before I woke up. After I left work work my wife sent me a text message and said that the power went out completely, and it stayed out until just about 4:00pm.
When I was driving in to work I hit the exit ramp onto Glennwood Ave, and saw a bright blue flash. At first I thought it was lightning, then everything around me went black. Transformer blew somewhere, and it took all the power to the buildings, stoplights, and everything else around me with it, which brings me to my first thought:
What to do when stoplights aren’t working. Both this morning, and when I left work this afternoon I amazed at the number of people who would just blow through an intersection where the stoplights were not functioning. If you find yourself approaching an intersection were the lights are out, and there isn’t anyone there directing traffic, you’re supposed to treat it like a 4-way stop. How stupid do you have to be to just roll on through hoping that people approaching from the other direction will stop?
Have a heat source. After I got home from work, I was hungry, but the power was still out at home. No big deal, I popped the release on the garage door, carried a little table out into the driveway, and fired up my old Coleman Peak1 backpacking stove and made some soup and coffee with the fanstastic Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set.
While I was cooking my neighbors pulled up, and said they had been out looking for propane tanks all afternoon but weren’t able to find any. No problem, I tossed them a couple 2lb tanks from my stash.
Have Extra Cell Phone Batteries This was a fluke preparedness thing for me, but it’s actually come in quite handy more than once. I’m still using the old Samsung Galaxy S3 that I’ve had forever, and it’s still a really good phone. A while back the charging port stopped working, and it was cheaper to buy a couple extra batteries and a wall charger for them than it was to have the phone repaired. I’ve found that it’s surprisingly handy to be able to just toss in a fully charged battery when the phone goes dead instead of having to plug it in and wait for it to charge. This morning when the lights went out, I had my phone with a partial charge, and a reload fully charged and ready to go when I left for work. When my wife’s phone died, there was a reload waiting for her at home as well. It’s a small thing, but at no point through the power outage was I without communication or an internet connection. If it was going to be an extended thing, I can get several days on a charge by turning wifi and mobile data off.
Have a battery powered radio. I’ve got one of these super fancy crank up Eton emergency radios that has a bunch of features that I’ll never use, but whenever the power is out we pull it out and use it to pick up FM radio, and it’s a superb receiver in that respect. (It has two tuning knobs, one to get you close to the station, and one for fine tuning it, and it works great for that.) There’s a positive psychological effect I’ve noticed when the power is out and I’m able to pick up some music on the radio. This particular one has a hand crank, but it requires a lot of cranking to listen for very long, so just get a little radio, and keep some batteries handy for it, I don’t think spending the extra money on a special emergency radio like the one I have a necessary.
Basically, be prepared to be without power, no matter where you live. You may not use things the way they are intended, but if it works, it works. Carry on.